Philippines gov’t hopes to clean up oil spill in under 4 months

Manila, Mar 8 (EFE).- The Philippines president on Wednesday said he hoped that the oil spill from a sunken tanker that has already affected dozens of coastal villages can be cleaned up within four months.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr based his prediction on the 2006 cleanup operation following the sinking of a vessel carrying nearly 2 million liters of oil off the coast of Guimaras, causing the worst oil spill in Philippines history.

“Maybe this time, since the oil spill is lesser than that of Guimaras, maybe we can clean up the spill in less than four months, if not possible in a month,” he told local media on the sidelines of an event in Quezon City.

Marcos Jr’s estimate comes a day after the Philippine Coast Guard, in charge of the operation to control and clean up the spill, admitted that they do not have sufficient resources to resolve the environmental disaster within a month.

The MT Princess Empress sunk a week ago in rough seas off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro province, carrying about 800,000 liters of industrial oil.

Although the United States space agency NASA estimated the Guimaras spill at about 200,000 liters, other studies believe that it reached half a million liters of spilled oil.

However, it is difficult to gauge the magnitude of the disaster, since the amount of oil spilled into the sea by the vessel is still unknown.

The government has declared a state of calamity in more than 78 coastal villages in Oriental Mindoro where the slick has reached the shores.

At least one resident of the affected area has been hospitalized after falling ill due to the toxic chemicals, while another 13 people have suffered vomiting, dizziness and cramps, the Department of Health reported.

The University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute estimates that some 20,000 hectares of coral reefs, 9,900 ha of mangroves and 6,000 ha of seagrass may be affected.

Around 18,000 fishermen have been ordered to stop their activity in Oriental Mindoro, affecting their livelihoods, according to local media. EFE


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